06 April 2009

Constantine "Taki" Papadakis RIP

Dr. Papadakis became Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering during my days as a student there. I remember him as powerful, very likeable and committed to excellence. He once told me his job was to continue the College's tradition of greatness so that industry would regard students like me as "elite and valuable." He died Sunday night of complications from lung cancer. He was 63.

He certainly fulfilled his charge. While at UC, he built top-quality graduate programs, more than quadrupled research contracts and grants and established relationships with leaders of local industry. During his tenure he increased the size of the faculty from 94 to 170 and commissioned architect Michael Graves to design a research center which was completed in 1995. Cooperative education, founded at UC by Dean Herman Schneider in 1906, flourished under his leadership. His work earned him national renown, and he was recruited to become Drexel's President.

Drexel Univeristy, Philadelphis, PA, 1995-Present
During his tenure, Papadakis has leveraged the historic strengths of the University (co-operative education, a focus on technology and the rich resources of its Philadelphia location) to...
  • double full-time undergrad enrollment from 4,500 in 1996 to more than 12,000;
  • triple freshman applications;
  • quadruple the endowment from $90 million to more than $500 million; and
  • quintuple research funding.
Today, Drexel educates 17,500 students, is the sixth largest private employer in Philadelphia employing more than 5,000 people and has an annual budget of more than $572 million. His $805,000 salary was the sixth highest among university presidents. Clearly he was worth every nickel of it.

Papadakis received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the National Technical University in Greece. He held a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He was a professional engineer registered in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Greece.

Papadakis also once headed the civil engineering department at Colorado State University and was vice president of Tetra Tech Inc., a Honeywell subsidiary, before joining Cincinnati. He also served in several engineering positions with Bechtel Power Company beginning in 1974.

He is survived by his wife, Eliana, and daughter, Maria. Papadakis took great joy in handing Maria her bachelor's degree when she graduated from Drexel last year.

No comments: